LIFE & TIMES IN WOODSTON & FLETTON
The Savoy Cinema in Palmerston Road, previously named The Woodston Cinema and then The Gem. In Palmerston Road, which was a through road to Oundle Road, there was a Mission Hall, affectionately known as ‘The Wooden Box’ where dances and other functions were held. The Church Army St Augustine’s Mission Hall in Orton Avenue involved similar activities – and included a Snooker table. The establishment was ably administered by Captain Burridge who encouraged the local Youth Club in the late 1940's.
Most people, especially children from the area, enjoyed the use of the open-air swimming pool at the Phorpres Club on London Road.
At the Methodist Chapel in London Road, opposite the Drill Hall , were a youth club and ‘The Band of Hope’ a temperance society, and associated Methodist activities. The most well known preacher was Wesley Blake.
The Dilley Hall in High Street, Fletton, was named after a county politician and used for many social activities, I was not aware of any religious affiliations but early in the war it was used as a dispersal centre for the evacuees coming to this area from North London. Of course, the many green fields made it possible to enjoy the best of outdoor activities favoured by the seasons.
Two carnival parades, Peterborough Hospital and Farcet were spectacular events, numerous floats including fire engines, lorries, steam engines, tractors, sponsored and manned by local businesses and organisations, all attractively decorated and accompanied by local and Salvation Army bands. Mostly raising funds for Peterborough Memorial Hospital - No NHS in those days. The Farcet event was at the time of Farcet Feast when traditionally Rhubarb was hung from bedroom windows, lamp posts, telegraph poles, bus stops or any other display facility.
At Horsey Toll, off Whittlesey Road, farmer Mr Whittome, was an early aircraft enthusiast and an Air Pageant was arranged periodically on his field. This involved various privately owned aeroplanes with pilots demonstrating their flying skills. This being in the 1930's and our main sightings of aeroplanes until R.A.F. Westwood was opened.
Food and housing
Before the war, milk was delivered by horse and cart and dispensed from churns. If skimmed milk was required, the cream was scooped from the top and the measuring jug was dipped into the skimmed area. Waste was collected by dustmen, most of it unwrapped, some in newspaper, but no plastic bags. Our particular kitchen waste was taken across the road where Tommy Barrett kept his pigs (his garden backed onto the railway). Everyone thought Tommy was doing us a favour but he knew he was getting his pigs fattened for free!
Before the WWar2 every house used coal, which was delivered by horse and cart or later by lorry. Most houses had a coal house or coalshed. Chimney sweeps were in demand and children would congregate in the street to watch the sweep’s brush emerge from the chimney top.
Playing in the street was no hazard as traffic was very light, whips and tops, and football with tennis balls being most popular.
Memories are revived by Margaret Thurston (nee Woods), and her sister Joyce, regarding Harold Evans. Harold worked for Huntings Butchers (corner of Jubiliee Street/Oundle Road) from a boy, for so many years that many knew him as Harold Hunting. He delivered meat to residents in the Woodston area, with a horse pulling a container van, this being in the 1930's, 40's and 50's. In those days, horse droppings were a common sight on urban roads, and was of value as manure to gardeners, so was collected and put on their rhubarb; - we had custard on ours!
Most front gardens were bounded by dwarf walls with iron railings at the top and iron gates at the entrance: these were removed for recycling for the war effort, many being replaced with brick walls and wooden gates after the war.
If you grew up in the Woodston / Fletton areas of Peterborough and would like to contribute to this website then please contact me.